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Things You Didn't Know About Virtuoso: Editing Properties

Comments(7)Filed under: Custom IC Design, Virtuoso, Virtuoso IC 6.1.3

When I was growing up, my mother would usually bake a ham for Christmas dinner.  She would always cut a slice off the side before putting it in the pan to cook.  One day I asked her why she did this and she replied that her mother always did it that way.  Now, I've never been the type of person who easily goes along with the "because we've always done it that way" kind of answer, so I asked my grandmother the same question.  Turns out she had to trim the side of the ham because she didn't have a pan big enough to fit it in!

Okay, hold that thought.  Now, quick, how do you edit the properties of a schematic instance?  All together now, "q", right?  Of course, everybody knows that.  You select the object(s) you're interested in (making sure you don't accidentally select any extra pins or wires you didn't want), then you press "q".  Then you reach up and move the property editor form out of the way because it's ginormous and blocks your schematic.  You make a change to the first instance, then reach down and click "Next".  Repeat this until your task is complete and click "OK" to get rid of the form.  Maybe if you're really daring and you want to make the same edit to several instances at once, you reach up and use the somewhat intimidating "Apply to all selected instances of same master" cyclic fields at the top of the form and hope that you didn't inadvertently change something you didn't mean to.

This isn't a bad way to do things, but what if there was a better way?  What if you didn't have to wear out the "q" key on your keyboard quite so fast?  What if you could see the properties for more than one object--at the same time (gasp)?  What if somebody gave you a bigger pan so you wouldn't have to throw away that extra slice of ham?

Get to the Point Already...

Next time you reach for that "q" key, try this instead...  Go to the menu and select Window->Assistants->Property Editor.  You'll now see the new Property Editor Assistant docked next to your schematic.  It works much like the old "q" form with some very useful twists. 

  • If you select multiple instances, you can see the property values for all of them at the same time.  Just click on the little plus sign ("+") next to the property name to see the values for each instance.
  • If your selected set contains objects of different types (e.g. you accidentally selected some wires and pins along with the transistors you wanted), you can filter which type is displayed using the object category pulldown at the top of the assistant.
  • Objects are cross-selected in all relevant assistants (Navigator, Search Assistant, Circuit Prospector, Constraint Manager, etc.) as well as in the schematic canvas for easy identification and manipulation in the associated applications.
  • You'll probably notice some color-coding in the form.  Grayed out lines are non-editable.  Blue italics means the property is set to its default value.  Bold orange text indicates that the selected objects do not all have the same value for that property.
  • To make a change, just click in the desired value field and start typing.  If you want to make a change to just one instance, type on the line next to that instance's name.  If you want to change a property for all the selected instances at once, type on the line next to the property name.  It's that simple.


So you see, you don't have to do something a certain way just because that's the way you've always done it.  I know your little finger will still have the reflexive impulse to reach for the "q" key (I still do it too sometimes).   But the next time you've got some serious property editing to do, try calling upon the new Property Editor Assistant to make your work a little easier.

More information can be found in the Virtuoso Schematic Editor XL User Guide.  There is also a video demonstration of the Property Editor Assistant in the Virtuoso Custom IC Video Library on Sourcelink.

Coming Attractions

Now that you've started using some of the new Assistants in IC61, I can hear some of you wondering where you're going to be able to find room for them on your screen.  Not to worry, I've got lots of handy tricks to show you next time to give you plenty of elbow room on your monitor...

Stacy Whiteman



By Kari on June 4, 2009
This is a wonderful series, Stacy. You have a great writing style!

By flash on June 4, 2009
Thanks for this tip, I will try to refrain from always going for the "q" .

By stacyw on June 11, 2009
Thanks!  Please let me know your experience using some of these features, especially if you've got suggestions for improvement!

By Sandra on June 14, 2009
Thanks for the helpful hints on the Property Editor Assistant.  It's funny how for the last 20+ years the bindkey q  has been used universally around the globe and is probably the most widely used command! Glad to see there is a better way.

By observer on August 4, 2009
You'll need to remember to "old" ways since the Assistant features are only available in the "XL" (and above tools).  No assistants available in Schematic L.......

By stacyw on August 5, 2009
Thanks for the comments!
It's true that the new Property Editor, Navigator, World View and Search Assistants are only available in Schematics XL.  They are available at the L level in the Virtuoso Layout tools, however.
Just to be clear, tabs, bookmarks and the recently-used files list I've discussed in other posts are available at all tool levels.  
I don't think anyone is going to forget the "old" ways any time soon.  Bindkey "q" is pretty much ingrained muscle memory for most Virtuoso users at this point...

By reddymsrsas on February 26, 2010
s its  very intresting

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